Thursday, November 03, 2005

Partisan Democrats? Let's Look at How The GOP-Dominated Senate Has Worked This Year

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid shut down the Senate on Tuesday to draw attention to GOP stalling on a true investigation into rigged intelligence leading to the Iraq war -- and the whining from the Republican leadership could be heard all the way to the true-blue West Coast.

Majority Leader Bill Frist had a minor meltdown.

"The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," Frist cried. "Never have I been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution. From now on, for the next year and a half, I can't trust Senator Reid."

"I'm astounded by this," said Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), a former majority leader. "I don't really know what the tenor of this is, or what is the justification for it, and why this extreme, you know, approach was used."

And on and on they went...

"It's clear from this political stunt that Senate Democrats will go to extraordinary and unprecedented measures to obstruct the business of the American people," blubbered Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

And Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said that "...rather than working in a bipartisan manner to vote out a report on this issue, they obstructed our work."

Roberts' view seems to be shared by most of the gang at Hypocrites R' Us, the Republican Superstore, whose feelings have been so hurt by Reid's actions, despite the monumental display of bad faith coming from GOP senators for all of the current Congress.

Let's go to the numbers because, just looking at the first 10 months of 2005 reveals a Republican-dominated Senate that, far from practicing what they preach and extending a hand of cooperation across the aisle, have gone out of their way to scuttle almost every amendment and bill sponsored by Democratic senators.

The numbers don't lie and here's how it stacks up after reviewing all 281 roll call votes taken in the Senate through the end of October.

Of 118 pieces of Democratic-sponsored legislation, a whopping 80 percent were rejected by Senate Republicans, many of them on straight party-line votes. Of those bills, 24 were "agreed to" and 94 were "rejected."

Omitted from this analysis for the sake of simplicity are votes to table – effectively trash – Democratic legislation without a vote. But, even when those instances are examined, eight of twelve motions to table a bill sponsored by a Democrat succeeded, in predominantly party-line actions.

But it's even worse than it looks for those paragons of civility and bipartisan cooperation in the GOP.

Of the 24 Democratic amendments that the Republican leadership allowed to slip through, nine were benign acts that passed by a unanimous vote or, in one case, 94-6. For example, in July, a bill sponsored by Tom Harkin (D-IA) "...recognizing and honoring the 15th anniversary of the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990" passed 87-0. A vote of 100-0 passed an amendment by Mary Landrieu (D-LA) to give a tax credit to employers continuing to pay the salaries of Guard and Reserve employees serving in Iraq. Sponsored by Dick Durbin (D-IL), an almost-clerical bill mandating a change to the numerical identifier used to identify Medicare beneficiaries under the Medicare program passed muster with everyone 98-0.

Hardly issues that even a Republican could fight with a straight face.

When you take out those softball pieces of legislation that either everyone would agree with or nobody would dare vote against, the clear lack of bipartisan spirit by the Senate's majority party is even more damning.

At that point, you're looking at a total of 109 amendments sponsored by Senate Democrats and an astounding 86 percent of those shot down by the Republicans. And this only takes into account those measures that were even allowed to make it to the floor for a vote.

It takes a lot of chutzpah for them to whine so much now about a lack of graciousness and cooperation – either that, or they really, truly are the biggest hypocrites East of the Mississippi.

Tomorrow: Just what were some of those many Democratic bills that the Republicans found so onerous? I'll detail those in part two tomorrow (Friday).

Full Chart Of Democratic Senate Legislation With Results: